Sun Apr 23, 2006
SINGAPORE (Reuters) - The leader of a Singapore opposition party, threatened with a defamation suit by the city-state's ruling politicians for accusations of corruption days ahead of a poll, said on Sunday he would not apologise.
Lawyers for Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his father, Lee Kuan Yew, have sent letters to leaders of the Singapore Democratic Party (SDP), complaining about articles in the party's newsletter.
The action comes before the May 6 general election in a replay of a legal drama ahead of the last poll in 2001, won overwhelmingly by the People's Action Party (PAP) that has dominated parliament since independence from Malaysia in 1965.
Chee Soon Juan, secretary-general of the SDP, and members of his party's central executive committee must apologise and pay an unspecified amount in damages, a lawyer representing the Lees told the Strait Times newspaper on Saturday.
"I personally will not be apologising. You can't be apologising every time someone threatens you," Chee told Reuters.
"I was only doing what the opposition should be doing: questioning government policies and wanting more transparency and accountability. Only here in Singapore are these actions frowned upon and draw defamation lawsuits," he said.
Lawyers said should the case go to court, the SDP ran the risk of being shut down if the party or its executive committee was not able to pay the damages.
An acerbic critic of the Singapore government, Chee has had several skirmishes with the ruling PAP. He was slapped with a defamation suit in 2001 for accusations against Lee, founder of the city state, and then Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong.
Chee was declared bankrupt in February for failing to make libel payments of S$500,000. Last month, he was jailed for eight days for questioning the independence of Singapore's judiciary.
23 Apr 2006
Why should he retract a statement which is true? The PAP should be apologising to the people of Singapore.